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DJ: Ohhhh yeah it’s time to hit the road! Summer’s nearing it’s unofficial end, but that still leaves plenty of time for one last road trip! Hello everyone and welcome to Feel Me Flow. Today is the first in a two-part episode all about that mighty thoroughfare we love to travel on – the road. The vast library of music dedicated to the streets or named after a certain road is amazing and left us with plenty to pluck from. As is our modus operandi around here, we dug deep for some stuff you’re really gonna love, however, you’ll recognize plenty.
We’re turning up the energy right off out of the gates with the Dutch pop punk band Travoltas. The band made waves in the early 2000s in America when they released the Beach Boys homage/tribute album Travoltas Party!. Much like the Beach Boys’ recording, the Travoltas album featured the band with acoustic instruments in a party like setting, complete with the background singers and bottles clanking. The album also featured a cover of Bad Religion’s “Sorrow”, which turned the song into a ballad. From the classic pop-punk LP Endless Summer, here’s the lead track “One For The Road”.
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DJ: Vancouver, British Columbia has such a stellar music scene. So stellar, in fact, that some dude from a college radio station wanted to tell the world about it and created a persona to do so some 30 years ago. That dude is Narwuar. Dead Ghosts hail from Vancouver. In the Nardwuar interview with Spanish band Hinds, he gifts them Dead Ghosts’ rare “1000 Joints” 7″. Hinds and Dead Ghosts are Burger Records labelmates. We heard “Girl Across The Street” from DG’s self-titled debut.
New Zealand’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra played a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” before that. UMO relocated to Portland, Oregon recently in pursuit of a broader audience in the US. We took that cover from the Red Hot AIDS Benefit Series compilation Day Of The Dead, a Grateful Dead covers album.
Arthur Conley stopped by with “Funky Street” from his 1967 Sweet Soul Music album. The title track was basically a cover of the Sam Cooke tune “Yeah Man” (one we played on our Yeah episode). Instead of Sam Cooke’s lyrics being about dances, Arthur changed it up to be about famous soul singers and songs.
Prior to the soul explosion of the late 60s, the early 60s R&B scene would be bubbling in anticipation. Ray Charles led that scene out of the 50s and into the swingin’ sixties with hits like his 1961 classic “Hit The Road Jack”. The back and forth between Ray and Margie Hendrix there is so amazing. So much attitude!
Sticking with the funky soul theme, we’re headed back to Muscle Shoals for some Wilson Pickett. Wilson recorded a cover of Dyke & The Blazers’ signature hit “Funky Broadway” just a few weeks after Arthur Conley recorded “Funky Street” there. There must have been something funky in the swamp… Kicking off our Broadway set is “Funky Broadway”; hit it, Pickett!
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DJ: Ahhh Neil. I love how passively aggressively snarky this cover is. We weren’t going to be able to do a Broadway set without featuring the classic show tune in some form or another. Why not go with a cover from the anti-capitalist, anti-American album Freedom?! Perfect.
Foxboro Hottubs’ song “Broadway” may have been titled and constructed as such from the chord progression in it alone. Its a muddled take on the two-chord back and forth that comprises “On Broadway”, but goes in other directions. Regardless, the Billie Joe Armstrong side-project landed itself in our big street set.
We had a riot on the streets of Melbourne in the middle of our set. The Living End is a rockabilly, punkabilly, psychobilly, whateverabilly band from down under that features the ol’ stand up bass and Gretsch guitar vibe the genre holds so dearly. The difference, here, being a distortion pedal and some seriously talented guitar playing. From the band’s highest selling album Roll On, that was “Riot On Broadway”.
Although the Goo Goo Dolls ended up being your mom’s favorite rock band, they definitely didn’t start out that way. Have you ever dug into their early LPs? Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik even said they were ripping off The Replacements. If you like the ‘Mats, though, check out Superstar Car Wash, which features songs co-written by Paul Westerberg. From the Dolls’ platinum-selling album Dizzy Up The Girl, that was “Broadway”.
We’re gonna get a bit groovier with James Mercer and Danger Mouse’s project Broken Bells. The 2009 smash hit debut LP The High Road and the title track single launched the side project into a fully functioning machine. Danger Mouse’s beats and production set the bar high and combining those features with proper songwriting is a recipe for serious success. See The Black Keys or Jack White. Here’s “The High Road”.
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DJ: White Fence rounds out our third set with a cover of the Gin Blossoms’ song “Allison Road” from the Laginappe Sessions, Vol. 1.. White Fence is the moniker of Tim Presley and is one of the many collaborative outfits that Ty Segall has involvement with. Ty and Tim put out the album Joy in 2018 using the White Fence name again, their second together since 2012’s Hair.
One of the first garage rock covers ever recorded was the Stones’ doing Nat King Cole’s song for a legendary American thoroughfare, “Route 66”. It’s where you get your kicks, you know. Unfortunately, US Route 66 is barely around anymore thanks to the Interstate Highway system. If you’ve ever seen the movie Cars, you might remember the scene where the highway comes along and the little town’s prosperity fades away. First, the towns died, then the road died. There are still drive-able sections these days, and some sections that are declared National Scenic Byways, so you’re not out of luck should you want to relive the old days.
Natural Child’s debut album 1971 was ominous in the name as well as the cover art. This was a time machine. The Nashville band released their debut album on JEFF The Brotherhood’s Infinity Cat Recordings in 2011. Leading off that LP was “Easy Street”, sandwiched in the middle of our set.
There’s just no way we could avoid playing the Bobby Womack classic we named an FMFFM station after. The soul soundtrack to the 1972 crime drama Across 110th Street was written and performed by Bobby Womack and Peace, with the score songs being composed by J. J. Johnson. Tarantino used the title track a few times in his blaxploitation throwback Jackie Brown.
Coming up in Set 4, we’re at a Dead End. Well, just for the set. Starting things off is the legendary Lou Rawls, who was referenced in Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music”. Lou must’ve really enjoyed beer. Starting in the mid-60s, he appeared in commercials for Spur Malt Liquor and Rainier Brewing Company as well as working with Budweiser throughout the 70s. One of Lou’s signature tunes is up next. Here’s “Dead End Street”.
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DJ: The Kinks’ “Dead End Street” showcased Ray Davies’ love for British Music Hall. Much like their tune “Sunny Afternoon” the bouncing piano and sulky lyrics combine for a juxtaposition of jolly and joyless. Singing about being poor while adding a happy sound to it seems to be what rock and roll is all about. The blues is the genre you’re looking for if you want to feel bad.
The dead Kennedy brothers are interred next to each other in a double grave of sorts, and some say they’re together in the Heavens. That was my weird sentence connecting all 3 artists played. Heavens was the side project of Alkaline Trio/Blink 182 frontman Matt Skiba and producer Josiah Steinbrick. Josiah produced White Fence’s Live In L.A. cassette which would make sense considering he played bass on the recording. From their one and only LP, that we heard Heavens with “Dead End Girl”.
Our Set 4 Score this week goes to Minneapolis’ Minnesota’s Double Grave. DG just released the 4 song strong Empty Hands EP in April of 2018 and are playing shows supporting the release throughout the summer and fall. The band shares a bassist (Bree Meyer) with fellow Set 4 Score featured artists Scrunchies. We played “Deadend” from their latest EP, but sure to check out their Bandcamp page for more music!
Dead Kennedys played “Dead End” from their sophomore 1982 release Plastic Surgery Disasters. The East Bay Ray penned tune laments about how nothing really matters because we all die in the end anyway, a dead end. Not the most uplifting of tunes, but it rocks out.
Next up is swamp pop from Bobby Charles. Charles hung around with the guys from the Band and Dr. John, being from the New Orleans area. Bobby also played “Down South In New Orleans” during The Band’s farewell show The Last Waltz. His performance didn’t make the cut for Scorcese’s movie, but the song can be found on the triple-LP soundtrack. From Bobby’s self-titled solo debut, here’s the lead track “Street People”.
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DJ: Moar punk covers! It’s been tradition in punk rock to cover pop songs since the very beginning. See The Ramones doing “California Sun” or the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious singing “My Way. Circle Jerks recorded the Garland Jefferys song “Wild In The Streets” in 1980 and it made its way to Rodney Bingenheimer. The Posh Boy Rodney On The Roq compilation featured the original version of “Wild” along with some of the most legendary punk songs ever. “Amoeba” from Adolescents, “Bloodstains” from Agent Orange.
There was a time in the late 90s/early 2000s when every punk cover you could find was “done by” Me First And The Gimme Gimmes; on Limewire and Napster, that is. Hell, I even saw the Gimme Gimmes labeled as Blink 182 doing “Seasons In The Sun”. How does that even sound remotely the same? Anyway, the punk party boys donated the John Denver song “Country Roads” to us from their 1995 Denver 7″, or the Have Another Ball B-sides LP.
Jimi Hendrix dropped by with “Highway Chile”, the B-side to “The Wind Cries Mary”. The track was an autobiographical story of Jimi’s journey through America to become who he eventually became. The Animals’ Chas Chandler produced the record.
The climbing guitar riffs of Big Star’s “In The Street” played well off of Bobby Charles’ “Street People”. The tune is perhaps best known nowadays as the theme song to That 70’s Show after Cheap Trick recorded a cover for it. Lots of covers on our road trip! The original comes from Big Star’s #1 Record.
Our final set starts off with some Irish road music followed by Bob Dylan’s highway legacy. Shane McGowan and The Pogues made Celtic music cool again with the fringe punk rock they incorporated into. By the 90s, the band was on the outs, and Hell’s Ditch would be the last album with Shane. Joe Strummer produced the LP and stood in for Shane on tour. From the last “true” Pogues LP, here’s “The Sunnyside Of The Street”.
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DJ: Sometimes that last track is a bit of a “no apologies” track, and today might be a perfect example. Bob Dylan’s son Jakob found success of his own in the late 90’s with his band The Wallflowers. Their sophomore album Bringing Down The Horse scored big with the adult contemporary/adult alternative crowd and sent them mainstream fast. We played one of their biggest selling tunes “6th Avenue Heartache”, a precursor to Part 2 of our Road Trip which will have both an Avenues and an Alleyways set.
Jack Frost himself showed up for his zippingly perfect “Highway 61 Revisited”. The title track off of the album that spawned “Like A Rolling Stone” is nestled up nicely amongst some of the finest writing any person, of musical nature or poetic, has ever written. Yes, I’m a big Dylan fan.
X actually covered “Highway 61 Revisited” during the sessions for their 1987 LP See How We Are. The lead single “4th Of July” included another Dylan cover recorded during those sessions, “Positively 4th Street”, as the B-side. They must have really been in a Dylan mood in the late 80s, eh?
Dropkick Murphys rounded out the one-two punch of Irish punk for our road trip. Taking big inspiration from The Pogues, yet turning up the distortion a bit more, the Boston Celtic punk band has survived many lineup changes and mainstream success. Remember how big they got after their song “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” was featured in Scorcese’s The Departed? That song seems to play at every sporting arena nowadays.
We hope you enjoyed Part one of our two-part Road Trip episode! Next week we’ll cross the finish line with some more songs about roads, streets, alleys, avenues, highways, bi-ways, my ways, and your ways. We’ll see you then!